Interview with Diamond Mine
Suzie: Welcome, Shirley, and thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to spend the week with us.
Let’s warm up with a few “would you rather” questions. Are you ready? Here goes: Would you rather live somewhere it is constantly summer or constantly winter?
Shirley: I’d rather live where it is constantly summer…in fact, I’ve already done that while serving as a missionary in Kenya for ten years. You can eat watermelon all year around!
Suzie: One of my favorite things about summer is the abundance of fruit.
Would you rather always say everything on your mind or never speak again?
Shirley: I would rather say what’s on my mind than to never speak.
Suzie: Would you rather be without internet for a week, or without your phone?
Shirley: I would rather be without the internet for a week than to be without my phone because of keeping in touch with my family.
Suzie: Sometimes taking that break from the internet is best for our sanity, anyway.
Ok, now that we’ve learned some random truths about you, give us some of the basics. Tell us about your family, day-to-day life, hobbies, etc.
Shirley: I’m a widow…I have three daughters, three sons-in-law, and seven grandchildren.
I run a ministry that helps orphans in Kenya. I write as often as possible. I also love oil painting.
Suzie: What are three books on your tbr right now?
Shirley: Three books on my tbr pile right now are
*DEAD EVEN by Susan Sleeman in the Truth Seekers Series
*SOME BRIGHT SOMEDAY by Melissa Tagg
*Rereading the 3rd book in The Bradford Sisters Series, by Becky Wade…I’m watching how she wove the characters of each book into the other volumes…like I’m doing in my African Skies Series
Suzie: Some good choices there. Can you share a little about your journey to publication? Who are your mentors and cheerleaders?
Shirley: I’ve studied the craft of writing for eight years with Susie May Warren and Novel Academy. I write my novels according to her The Story Equation method of writing.
My late husband was the first to love my prose…now my family and friends are my faithful cheerleaders, but the teachers of Novel Academy have been my mentors on this publication journey.
Suzie: Your newest release, The Sahar of Zanzibar, is set in Africa (as the entire African Skies series will be). Will you share an experience or two you’ve had with the country?
Shirley: As missionaries, my husband and I were one of three missionary couples that held the first open-air Christian Crusade in Stone Town on Zanzibar Island.
While setting up for the service, a Zanzabarian grandmother brought her granddaughter to me. “Can your God heal?” was her question. I answered her in Swahili, “Yes, He does.”
She said, “Ask Him to heal my granddaughter.” I explained how the afternoon would transpire, there would be music and singing, the minister would preach, an altar call would be given asking those who want to give their lives to Jesus to come forward. Then He will call for those who need to be healed. It is then that you can bring her forward to be prayed for.” She nodded and said she would wait. I asked her the child’s name and why she needed healing. She said, “Her name is Happy and she is completely deaf.”
When the minister gave the appeal for those who wanted to be saved, the grandmother came forward with Happy. I was playing the keyboard for the altar time…watching Happy. Suddenly, she covered her ears with her hands. Her eyes were wide. She had been healed before anyone prayed for her.
Happy became one of the most successful witnesses on the island. Without fear, she would speak to Muslims. “Why are you praying to a dead god, my God heals. I was deaf—now I can hear.”
I put Happy in my novel. She is working as a tour guide in the story.
Another story…After the crusade, we had no place to build a church. All land was owned by Muslims…except one plot of land.
In the late 1800s, a Protestant missionary martyr, anti-slavery crusader, David Livingstone, lived in Zanzibar. Since it was a law that every person who lived there had a place to be buried…the Parliament gave a plot of ground next to the Anglican Church so David Livingstone and any other Christians would have a burial spot. They had the Anglican church take care of the property…mowing the lawn and keeping the perimeter fence secure.
After our Crusade, leaders in the Anglican Church came to the man who was sent to pastor the new converts and gave him this plot of ground. They were tired of taking care of it for over one hundred years…
That is where the church is in my novel…
Suzie: Such powerful stories!
In addition to writing romantic suspense, you also published a children’s picture book in 2021 and you are a popular speaker. What is/has God teaching/taught you in each of those areas?
Shirley: Yes, Tubby Can’t Swim was published this year. It’s a colorful book that encourages children to be the best they can be, tell them that everyone is different, and shows friends trying to help each other. It is the first children’s book I’ve written in a series of ten books featuring African baby animals.
Speaking gives me a great opportunity to share my passion for the Lord. I also can tell about my writing and have book signings after I speak at churches, ladies retreats, and women’s conventions.
So many that have followed our mission career are interested in the many adventures I share as I speak with the purpose to challenge them to make a difference with their own lives.
Suzie: What can readers expect next from you?
Shirley: I’m doing edits on my next novel, Escape from Timbuktu, the second novel in my African Skies Series. I’ve written the second book Ollie Tries to Fly in my series of Children’s books. It is ready to go to the illustrator.
Suzie: Goodness, you are one busy lady! The final question I have for you today is: how can we pray for you?
Shirley: I would ask for prayer as I market and sell these books. I’m finding marketing is much harder than writing the book.
Suzie: Boy, isn't that the truth?
Thank you again for taking the time out of your packed schedule to share some of your experiences, your heart, and your writing with us. We look forward to learning where God takes you next.